Teacher Conferences at Pre-Schools
Archived Q&A and Reviews
My son goes to a Montessori school that asks parents to evaluate their children prior to individual parent/teacher meetings. I have found in the last two meetings that both teachers have repeated almost exactly what was written by us. I am interested to hear what the process is for other Montessori preschools. Do the teachers guide you as parents, and do they recall dates and specific activities? Do they rate your child amongst his/her peers? Do they have suggestions on how your child might improve? Also, our school has issues with bullying and I would like it if the school would tell us what sorts of struggles they are working on with the group as a whole. Does your school inform you of these bigger over-arching issues?
We don't have family here and I only can compare my kids to what else is going on with the school, so I rely heavily on the guidance of the teachers and their feedback to help my kids grow and be prepared. Thank you E
I think it depends on the school and the teachers rather than that style of parent/teacher conferences being something unique to Montessori. We have recently moved Montessori preschools and the differences in the two schools, particularly the parent conferences has been astonishing. The school we previously went to in Oakland held conferences exactly as you describe and my kid also had to deal with bullies and I came to accept these issues as things I just need to deal with in the education system. I felt like the teachers didn't want to rock the boat or say anything which may upset us, either that or they just weren't paying attention because nothing of any interest was discussed. At least it was nothing more than we had already mentioned to them and we got the general blurb that our daughter prefers the practical life room and that was the extent of it.
So, at the new school, the beginning of our recent parent/teacher conference there was no questionnaire for us to complete and when we sat down the teacher presented us with a five page report already completed by the teacher rating our daughter on about 15 different areas of learning/personality/strengths and weaknesses. It was downright awesome. The teacher had so many insights, she was honest and helpful and clearly is paying attention to the same things which we notice.
I would love to mention our prior school by name because it was such a disappointing experience and I would even venture to say it was a damaging environment for our daughter. anon
Hi! Our son is in the preschool at Montessori Family School in Berkeley, and we are extraordinarily happy about the communication that is occurring with his teachers. I can give you an overview of what we've experienced in terms of both formal conferences and informal communication from teachers in this environment; you can use this to compare with your own experiences. For us, what we've witnessed has been good balance between communication and evaluation, and has matched our expectations.
At MFS, parent/teacher conferences with teachers occur twice per year, and last for a half hour. As a parent, I personally see this less as an evaluation than as an extended time to communicate with teachers. Prior to the conference, the teachers do ask parents to complete a two-page questionnaire that includes developmental goals for the child. At the conferences, the teachers typically come forward with extremely specific examples of actions and behaviors that our child had in the classroom, and have prepared notes. I can tell that they take a significant amount of time to prepare specifically for this conference with us.
We've walked through formal evaluations at a previous, non-Montessori child care. They involved more paperwork, and a specific one-on-one assessment conducted by the teacher with our child. I have to say after several years of listening to those assessments, there was nothing on those papers that ever surprised or informed us. The advantage to such evaluations is that they are more comprehensive -- for example, they will help you to discover if you child is falling through the cracks on a specific area of learning, such as learning the colors. The disadvantage is that they are necessarily so superficial that you realize, while listening to them, that they can't reveal much about your child's development that you didn't already know.
More important that infrequent conferences is the level of day-to-day communication that you have with your child's teacher. For example, our child's teacher may stop us prior to picking him up after school to talk about how he has been that day or week. Sometimes, these conservations can last for 15 minutes or longer. They always bring up specific examples and talk about some of the things they have seen our child most excited about while in the classroom, and what he faces as a challenge.
It sounds like your larger concern is that your school is not doing enough to communicate with you, on multiple levels. This is something that you should worry about. However, this is not an issue that is inherent to a Montessori environment -- at least not in our personal experience. Definitely talk to your child's teachers more, and try to work things out. Your care and concern are the first steps in correcting the issue. MFS Mom
My child's preschool, which currently provides information on a daily chart for parents regarding what the child eats, the time that they go to sleep for nap, and the time that they wake up, as well as keeping track of diaper changes, is considering doing away with these charts because the administration believes that the teachers could be better spending their time with the children, rather than filling out the charts. My impression is that it doesn't take that much time to fill out the information, and I think it's pretty important to know these kinds of details so I can know what to expect for the evening (e.g. is my child going to be hungry? especially tired? or not sleepy because there was a 2 hour nap..) Anyway, I'm wondering what is the standard at other preschools that serve children aged 2-5. Do you get this kind of information every day? How is it communicated (e.g. verbally or on a chart?). Am I justified to think it is important to have this kind of detail? trying not to be a control freak
I have used a total of four daycares/preschools for my children, and the most information I ever recieved was whether the child took a nap or not. I would love to get the kind of report that you are talking about, but from my experience, it certainly isn't the norm. Maybe if you tell the school how valuable the information is to you they would consider keeping the system in place. -A
My 2 1/2y.o. has been in preschool for six months and we don't get any of that written information. If I want to know how he slept or ate, I talk to the teachers. To be honest, I never got that information when he was in home-based day care, and don't know if I would have wanted it either. Except when he was little and nursing I didn't feel it was necessary to monitor his day very closely. If my kids have been acting abnormally the teacher/care provider always tells me. Otherwise I'll figure it out when I feed him, play with him, and put him to bed. When he first went to preschool I monitored their menu so that he didn't have chicken for both lunch and dinner, but now I don't bother... between the four of us someone almost always has to repeat one of their lunch food. mom of two
Our preschool does not give us any written daily report and I don't feel that we need one. What about just talking to the teacher for a few minutes when you pick your child up to get the information that you need? preschool mom